It’s a much more streamlined experience over his older games. I loved the Geneforge setting but for overall experience this is my favorite Spiderweb game. I’m about 10 hours in fwiw
Do you roll your own party members, or do you have to use characters Vogel created?
There are preset characters available if you wish to use them, but you’re allowed to create your own from the ground up. It’s not that time consuming to make them, you’re mostly just choosing how they look and starting skills.
Ah! so we made a thread! Good. I was reluctant because I get policed on that occasionally… so how is this?
The RPG Codex does not seem to like it.
Seems to be selling pretty well, though. And according to Vogel on his blog, has a very low return rate, so as he reminds himself: “loud people on the internet” <> actual reflection of what the majority think.
Typed all this on a phone, so there’s probably a bunch of typos or whatever.
My only experience with Jeff Vogel’s games are Avadon: The Black Fortress (played in 2011), and one of the Geneforge games (also played years ago). I really enjoyed those games except for one glaring issue that ruined my appetite for Spiderweb’s games, having to pick up and evaluate all the tons and tons of loot found in the world in a UI that grew increasingly frustrating to use because of how many awkward button presses or clicks it would take to get stuff done. I’m dead serious when I tell you that I’ve been waiting for this day, to play another Vogel game once the process of doing certain things wasn’t made significantly worse because the UI was a barrier between me and smooth game flow.
I can certainly understand and embrace an indie developer going back to the basics in the art and sound department because of cost, but I can’t tolerate frustrating enduser experiences that seem like they’d be cheap and simple to design correctly iteration after iteration.
Anyway, all that’s to say that what drew me to the game was all the talk about how Jeff was making an effort to streamline this game as much as possible. This means a ton less grinding, and less corpse & environmental loot management, which had the side effect of directly addressing my biggest complaint from earlier titles, having to open and close the inventory window (with different buttons!) 50 times in a room while scouring it for scattered trinkets and junk everywhere. By putting almost everything in chests, and by removing interactive junk everywhere, I’m already happy with my purchase.
Okay, so I’ve spent way too long here blabbing about a pet peeve, but I’ve been a bit obsessed over these issues since 2011.
As for the gameplay, I am enjoying it. I am playing on the second hardest difficulty level, Veteren, and it seems to be the perfect challenge for me. I haven’t had to repsec at all for any one encounter, but that’s probably because I’m constantly fiddling and tweaking my skills anyway, as I try new things.
I really do enjoy reading the GM/DM narration/description windows that pop up when I find a new area or creature. I also enjoy how “cut scenes” play out in these story pop-ups. I actively dislike cut scenes in every game, but reading about my character doing stuff is much more appealing on a personal level.
The forts seem like a good idea so far, because I can improve my situation without everything being so reliant on equipped items.
And I also like that the game gets right to it, there isn’t an hour of reading and wandering around before you do anything, there’s just a few minutes and then you’re out and about.
I’m glad the game is streamlined, so far I enjoy the skill system, I enjoy the moral and political choices I’m faced with, and their consequences, effects, and sometimes reprecussions. I also really enjoy that dungeons and encounters can’t as easily be cheesed like in other games where you can chip away at monsters little by little while resurrecting or resting along the way. Here you’ve got to manage your health and mana because it’s meaningful every step of the way (until you’ve cleared a place one way or another), and there’s no leaving without the dungeon/encounter resetting (monsters, not chests). Once cleared these places typically convert to your benefit one way or another.
I’m liking the game, and I’d say it took three or four hours of aimlessly doing my own thing (I like to ignore quests in RPGs for whatever reason) before it not only clicked, but sunk its hooks in me. It clicked right about the time I began seeing the benefits and coming up with plans for my realm’s expansion. I’d expect this to go faster for more focused players. But the game is open world, so who knows!
About the only serious complain I have with the game is that the fort upgrade system isn’t really clear in terms of how income works. It’s the forts (and the surrounding points of interest that quests will direct you to if you don’t wander into them and clear them on your own) that provide income. The structures you build in forts only cost income (up front and have a maintenance cost), with there being specific buildings that provide additional money. But the key resources - iron, stone, quicksilver - olnly come from the forts themselves and points of interest. And there’s a specific “fort upgrade” option which increases a fort’s income. The income a fort provides is somewhat based on where it is; you’ll get more iron from Ukkat lands, stone from Vol lands, and of course quicksilver from the Ahriel. As you also tend to get more points of interest that supply that region’s resource.
Anyway, don’t be like me. I rushed Blacksmith;'s wherver I could and then made it impossible to do actual fort upgrades (and structure building ground to a halt as well) for a spell until I was able to get enough other forts and PoI’s that I could get positive iron income again. Be a bit more measured in what you build early on. Which is fine, you will both find interesting gear upgrades out in the wild (although these are rarer) and don’t necessarily need to grab every next upgrade right away anyway. There’s good 1 and 2 augment slot gears even after a few structures have been built and IMO the augment slots are pretty crucial.
Also, to hit bonuses are really helpful, as everyone in this game is evade happy (including, to your benefit, your own characters).
Just a word of warning - the game has a bug that causes it to randomly freeze for seconds at a time that is impacting a small number of people including me unfortunately. The developer has already acknowledged it in the Steam forums and is planning a patch for it, but it’s annoying enough to be unplayable for me at the moment. Try the demo first or watch the steam forums for an update if you worry this might impact you is my advice.
This is the first Spiderweb game I’ve played, and probably the first open world sandbox RPG so I’ve lots to learn.
Currently stuck in the Mirefangs. General Ajax has had his wizards blow the gate to the tower, but I can’t locate the tower(s).
NM I think that I figured this out.
That part is tricky, because the map basically changes on you repeatedly, in keeping with the Ahriel theme of illusion/deception magic (and passive magic coming from forests). It won’t be the last time you face the mechanic.
Jeff Vogel is a national treasure, so I am always interested in what he’s doing.
Man this sounds good. Thanks for the great writeup @Kerzain. I’m planning on diving into this over the weekend. I’ve never played a Vogel game before but have always been interested in them and this seems like the perfect one to start with. A few questions for those gracious enough to answer:
I watched the first part of a let’s play and it looks like the game throws you into the world after you select your appearance. I didn’t notice any attribute allocation. So, what are the character customization options like? I know you can respec to make certain areas easier, so is it all skill-based? Can you, for instance, focus your character on spell casting or healing or whatever?
Also, what’s the party management like? It’s a party-based RPG, but I haven’t read much about how that works either.
Yres you can focus but you won’t, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, there’s only 20 character levels that grant skill points IIRC. I think you start with 3 anf get 22 total. That is enough to max a “tree” (there are 3 full trees and a 4th special one, more in a sec), by a few points but you probably won’t want to.
The 3 main trees (ignoring “cultural”) give special benefits when you reach each of the 4 tiers of skills. Which you do by (1) putting at least two points anywhere in the previous tier and (2) putting a point into that tier. Except tier 1, you gbet that benefit at the first point. Each usable skill (2 of the 3 in a tier) has 2 levels, the second level generally giving increased effect. There is also a third skill that might be passive or active, with a single level.
So, right away in the combat tree you noticed that the first 3 tiers each dicate what “tier” of equipment you can use. This is super important, and the magic tree grants the same for magic. Every character is going to want probably 2 “tiers” of this benefit in either tree, minimum. Possibly 3. So that’s 3/5 points invested, total, just to be able to equip good/best gear.
Second thing you notice is that there’s a magically conferred passive benefit for getting the tier bonus. Health is nice, but it’s not as nice as some of the others. To give some 1 point skill examples, the tier 1 is steelskin, which gives +20% resist to a bunch of important resistances and could easily find it’s way onto all of your characters. A nd as a bonus you’d get +2 health and access to tier 1 “martial” weapons and armor, all for a single skillpoint. By Grabthar’s hammer, what a deal.
The tier 2 one pointer is a special attack that hits the enemy and grants you a few turns of haste. Haste is super duper important. It’s both a stat (see the speed bonus listed under characters) and a status effect that makes you act more often. Speed kills, there is no such thing as too much speed. My fastest character somtimes acts 3 times as often as the slowest enemies. It reminds me of Ultima V, in this respect. Haven’t seen a system like that in ages. I like it. The Tier 3 one increases health by 10% per level (character level, I presume). The tier 4 is as shout that can frighten.
The rest of the combat skills are combat skills. They all do damage, sometimes more than average, and tend to either convey a status effect or offer some sort of positioning benefit. The kick in tier 2 knocks enemies back, the left skill in tier 4 is a dash attack. And there’s whirlwind, the only proper aoe skill in combat (tier 2, left).
The second point in a skill usually also increases damage.
Your “mage” can do damage with a lot of aoe options, summon friends (1 max summon per character but hella useful), and debuff enemies considerably. Fireball (t4 left) and ice cone (t2 left) are the only putre damage spells. Everything else damages + applies some condition (always subject to resists), like slow or poison or weakness. The t1 right ability gives +20% to healings, blessings, and curses (all debuffs are “curses”), making it super awesomely useful for anyone who heals, buffs, or curses. The t3 gives +1 energy per 5 levels. Most skills cost 1-3 energy, your pool is limited and managing it is very important. It works well.
I have a point in summon skeleton (t2, right) and it’s useless as I much prefer the golem (t4, right). Alas, I need to unallocate everything down to the second tier to remove it but it’s not the end of the world. I’ll do so soon.
This brings us to the stealth MVP tree.
Buffing and healing ismostly in this tree. But that’s not what makes it MVP, although buffing is super important.
Firstly, 5 invested points gets you +15% evasion which is amazing. Secondly, if you put 5 points in your first point in the tier 3 should be the delicious little winged foot icon for +10% haste, permanently (is this +10% speed? I don’t know I should check). If you go to 7 points, you get the t4 passive of another +10% speed. I mentioned speed kills? That’s the tree on my fastest character. Ole Terrance (I took stock names, and picked icons at random, so yeah) is using arcane gear largely (also a bow) and has no speed penalities. His arrows have felled many foes.
As for the buffs themselves.There’s a straight bless (bonus to hit and damage, iirc), and a super bless/haste. A mass heal, a second mass heal that heals less but removes curses/bleeding/pooison(super important). A dispel (enemies will buff liberally and buffs stack power), a silence (t4 top right), and single target heals/cures. The bottom right t1 makes you targeted less.
It’s a super important tree for the speed and evasion. But you need multiple buffers and healers anyway.
Culture is a curious one. The main character is the only one who gets it. But you can recruit members of the factions and they get special cultural trees unique to them. I haven’t done this, I ought too. The main gets an aoe heal+cure, an aoe haste/bless, and an “aura” that grants a passive damage bonus. The big advantage here is that you can get this stuff faster through the culture tree than you could via going up Support. And the passive damage bonus doesn’t appear anywhere else except the t4 benefits in magic/combat. I believe the other faction trees include exotic damage abilities (some aoe stuff, I’ve seen it used on me) and who knows what else.
It’s a good system. It’s not Wizardry 7, or d20, or SPECIAL. But it’s a good system. Everything seems useful and usable, with the caveat that I expect certain things to fall off late game (e.g. poison is prettyu effective, doing solid damage up front + the dot). I don’t stun much because I’m used to Vogel not allowing me to do that through the bulk of one of his games (he famously has used a spell named Daze as an aoe stun that’s a lifesaver early game but garbage late across 3 sepratley deries. e.g.). But the bleed has been good, and weakening/rendering a target vulnerable has been aces.
I used whirlwind for a bit. I may re-add it. I have 3 characters who can cast bless+haste (the main via culture, the other two via support). Terrance is learning magic skills - I am focusing on debuffs because Terrance has a bow and soon maybe a wand to do damage with - to bolster that energy pool and get access to better gear.
Note that arcane weapons do magic damage, while the rest do physical. And you’ll want both types.
Vogel has made deeper games himself, but like I said this is a good system. I think securing certain passives is super important - additional health and energy, not to mention evasion. And there’s room to do that with there not being a set approach.
As for party management:
Like I said I can recruit other people at my leisure, I just haven;t. In a fort (not a vassal town, it has to be one of your forts and this also holds for leveling up) you can reallocate skill points freely. The only downside so far is that Vogel ditched party inventory for the first time in I can’t remember when; a decade or more. Inventory space is precious and also upgrade-able (you get bonus slots for building a certain number of weavers in your forts and will eventually want to build one in each of the 7 forts).
There are potions but they’re special. You will find or be rewarded potion bottles (I have 5) and they start life as healing potions but the apothecary will change them to something else, provided you have enough apothecaries in your forts! There are also scrolls, don’t horde them. I’m low on scrolls but you have to complete dungeons in one push so it’s worth using them when necessary.
No companion backstories or anything like that.
Thanks! That answered all my questions and more. I really like the look of the skill system. Maybe it’s not super deep, but every choice seems meaningful.
Oh, I forgot to mention: no ability scores whatsoever.
Also, for some fun numbers, I think I’m level 12 across the board. Yennifer has 120 health and 11 mana. Terrance and the mage both have 18 mana (and 90something health).
Excellent write up.
Even though you haven’t recruited them into your party proper, have you tried actually creating (and looking over) any new party members that hail from the from the various races of the forts you’ve taken over? Each race has its own cultural bonus that applies to individual party members of that specific race. For example, one race has a PASSIVE cultural ability you can skill up which gives the entire party a 10%/rank chance to apply Bleed to an enemy with melee & missile attacks. These are cultural bonuses individual party members can have above and beyond the bonuses afforded to your primary Hero/Prince/Princess.
In fact, once you have the ability to recruit from other races, I’m not exactly sure what the point is of keeping your original Havenite party members at all, since they don’t have any cultural bonuses and I haven’t progressed far enough to see if there are any actual drawbacks to using the other races in your party.
Thanks K. I like that YOU like it is streamlined. I plan on looking at this soon.
Spiderweb games give birth to threads as good as their games oO
I am waiting for the obligatory iOS version!
I’ve found an annoying issue. I cleared out an early mine and found a description of another mine that should hold related enemies. The problem is that I don’t remember where it was describe to be and I don’t have a quest to find it.